Presence of the Eucalyptus snout beetle in Ecuador and potential
invasion risk in South America
Eucalyptus snout beetles (Curculionidae: Gonipterus
scutellatus complex), native to mainland Australia and Tasmania,
defoliate Eucalyptus trees and are considered important pests.
Since the 19th century, species of the G. scutellatus complex
have been introduced to other continents. Here, we document the presence
of Eucalyptus snout beetles in Ecuador and use ecological niche
models to analyze their potential distribution in South America.
Phylogenetic analyses of DNA sequences unambiguously demonstrated that
the Ecuadorian specimens belong to the species G. platensis,
which has low genetic diversity compared with other species in the
complex. Ecological niche models revealed several areas of high to
intermediate climatic suitability for the pest in South America, even in
countries where it has not been registered, like Peru and Bolivia.
Accurate identification of species in the Gonipterus scutellatus
complex and understanding of their potential distribution are essential
tools for improved management and prevention tactics.